Slade School of Fine Art UCL
Gower Street London WC1E 6BT
David Burrows is an artist and writer interested in notions and concepts of the new in sacred, mass and avant-garde cultures. He studied at Goldsmiths College and graduated in 1994. He was selected for Becks Futures in 2001 and received a Paul Hamlyn Visual Artists Award in 2003. His current practice addresses the production of fiction as a transformative process as well as notions of impermanence and immanence, developing interests explored in earlier work that addressed violence, destruction, crisis and disorientation as structural elements in sacred, mass media and avant-garde cultures.
David Burrows has published essays and reviews in magazines and journals including Art Monthly, Variant, Mute, Angelaki, New Left Review and catalogue essays for DJ Simpson, Jemima Stheli and Mark Wallinger and Manuel Ocampo. He has edited anumber of books of collected essays including 'Whose Afraid of Red, White andBlue' 1998, 'Making a Scene' (with Henry Rogers) 2001 and 'Performance Fictions' 2011 all addressing art, performance, scenes and politics, and all published by Article Press.
As well as establishing a solo art practice he often works in collaboration. Past collaborations include exhibitions with the artists' group BANK, Bob & Roberta Smith and DJ Simpson. Since 2005, he has collaborated with Simon O’Sullivan to address the relation of aesthetics, politics and the sacred through the 'performance-fiction' Plastique Fantastique. Through the production of events, films, comics, writing, installations and artifacts, Plastique Fantastique (a group of human and inhuman avatars) deliver communiqués from the extreme past and future that are baroque, express a subversive urgency and are frequently participatory. 'First Manifesto of Plastique Fantastique’ proposes a practice that moves participants “from work time (utility) into sacred time (play)” by executing practice as ritual and performance.
Before taking up the post of Head of Undergradute Fine Art Media at the Slade School of Fine Art in 2010, he was Reader in Fine Art at Birmingham City University, where he worked in the School of Art from 1997 and where he coordinated Fine Art Research.
David Burrows has exhibited extensively in the UK and abroad including Chisenhale Gallery London, Arts Space Sidney, Mori Art Museum Tokyo, Frederieke TaylorGallery New York, Galerie Praz-Delavallade Paris. He has participated in the 2010 Tatton Biennial and 'Event Horizon' at the Royal Academy of the Arts, London (with Simon O’Sullivan). In 2003 he exhibited in the British Council survey exhibition 'Macro/Micro: British Art 1996 – 2002', Kunsthalle Budapest. David Burrows and the collaboration Plastique Fantastique are represented by IMT Gallery in London.
I work individually and in collaboration to explore notions and concepts of the new in avant garde, utopian, sacred and mass media cultures. A second research concern is the investigation of the ways in which fiction and performance are transformative processes or processes through which worlds and relations are formed and maintained. This research draws upon continental philosophy and theories concerned with subjectivity, ontology and performance and performativity. I am interested in the ways that art and other social and cultural formations can be understood as residual or emergent cultures that resist, escape or open up different orientations to the dominant organisations of everyday life. In relation to this, exploring the legacy of the avant garde and the role of scenes in developing new orientations has been an ongoing concern, both as an object of study and as an aspect of my art practice, collaborations and curatorial projects. These research concerns have developed from earlier work that addressed the ways that impermanence and immanence, violence, destruction, crisis and disorientation are important structural elements in popular and mass culture and avant-garde culture. A corollary of these concerns is an interest in art and writing and the ways in which writing is an aspect of art practice. This interest relates to my recent research concerned with the diagrammatic, and art as a diagrammatic presentation or practice that escapes or is captured by discursive regimes. Since 2005, I have collaborated with Simon O'Sullivan on the 'performance fiction' Plastique Fantastique, which explores the relation of art, politics and the sacred. Through the production of events, films, comics, writing, installations and artifacts, Plastique Fantastique (a group of human and inhuman avatars) deliver communiqués from the extreme past and future that are baroque, express a subversive urgency and are frequently participatory. The 'First Manifesto of Plastique Fantastique’ proposes a practice that moves participants “from work time (utility) into sacred time (play)” by executing practice as ritual and performance.
Recent exhibitions include:'Night is also a Sun', IMT Gallery London 2012; 'The Diagram: Blackboard Series' Banner Repeater London and Torna Istanbul 2011; 'We are grammar' Pratt Gallery New York 2011; 2010 Tatton Park Biennial; ‘Event Horizon’ at the Royal Academy of the Arts, London. Recent published writing: 'Performance Fiction', Article Press and Mute (2011) 'An art scene as big as the Ritz: the logics of scenes' in ‘Deleuze & Contemporary Art’, Edinburgh University Press (2010), 'The Chymical Wedding: Masochism and Performance', Angelaki (2010 with Simon O’Sullivan) and 'Readymades, Lavender Mist and Mirror Travel' in ‘Deleuze, Guattari and the Production of the New’, Continuum (2009).
I am Head of Undergraduate Fine Art Media at the Slade School of Fine Art, teaching practical and theoretical aspects of Fine Art. I have taught undergraduates, graduates and research students, supervising two doctoral students to completion.
Contributed collaborative work to exhibition exploring contemporary artists' use of manifestos.
In outer space there is no painting and sculpture!2014
The exhibition consisted of three works, commissioned by Summerhall for Edinburgh Science Festival 2014. The exhibition addressed different conceptions and diagrammatic approaches to singularities, gravity and light. 'Have you ever seen an atom?' is a 5 x 5 meter circular assemblage made from wood, glitter, paper, card, polyethelyne foam and light paper and also consisted of audio and video work. This work addresses themes of time and space and references diagrams of singularities produced by scientists to popularize ideas of relativity and quantum physics. This work was presented as a fiction, as an aftermath of a wormhole virus being unleashed by the Revolutionary Army of Astrophysicists who weaponize black holes to attack everyday consumer culture and values. The audio-video work presented animations of digital and domestic consumer objects and scientific concepts. The films and hand-made objects presented were distorted, slowed or repeated as if caught in the accretion disc of a black hole. The work was developed in part from research undertaken for UCL's 'Wonders of the Cosmos' seminar series for which I presented a paper exploring the concept of a diagrammatic imaginary developed by researching different scientific and aesthetic practices. The exhibition further developed ideas about diagrams discussed in the paper concerning the imaginary and the real, and mathemes and pathemes. As well as this, a double projection titled 'Eyes are a gift of the Sun' (addressing ideas about light and invisibility) and a single channel video titled 'In outer space there is no painting and sculpture!', (a diagram of a singularity and collapse of gravity, using GIFs of animals downloaded from the intranet) were also exhibited.
Animation, Infiltration, Documentation Video Show2014
Hal Project Space, Space Mass
Contributed collaborative film to exhibition exploring performance and documentation.
'The Starseed Transmission: a diagrammatic message from outerspace'2013
Enclave, 50 Resolution Way, London, UK
The film 'All the fantasies of the people' and the assemblages 'Gabba, gabba, gabba, all hail the great gobbler 1' and ''Gabba, gabba, gabba, all hail the great gobbler 2' were produced for the group exhibition, 'The Starseed Transmission: a diagrammatic message from outerspace', addressing non-language-based diagrammatic communications. The starting point for the show was Carl Sagan's diagram engraved onto NASA’s Pioneer 10, now over 8 billion miles away, intended as a message for intelligent life. The show also presented work by Sovay Berriman, Plastique Fantastique, Rowena Harris, Dean Kenning and Inês Rebelo.
Contributed collaborative work exploring feedback loops produced by consumer culture and diagrams of life cycles of parasites, through fictional characters, sculpture and film.
Your Extinction, Our Future2013
The collaborative exhibition explored subjectivity as feedback loops, the legacy of cybernetics and the mutation of language in social media through film projections, hand-made posters and assemblages. The exhibition was supported by the Arts Council of England.
Contributed to exhibition exploring painting as an expanded practice.
Swarms of Black Flies Make the Roses Purple2012
IMT GAllery, Unit 2/210 Cambridge Heath Road London E2 9NQ UK
Swarms of Black Flies Make the Roses Purple presented instances of collaboration practices concerned with technologies of production. In particular the exhibition explored how contemporary artists manipulate technologies for artistic purpose. With precedents provided through the work of William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin (whose work was included in the show) the exhibition presented new works that investigate artistic communion and transmutation. Collaborative work I produced with Simon O'Sullivan for the exhibition explored the use of mathemes (diagrams) as process for writing and imagining subjectivities and avatars and the manipulation of reading/speech functions of computers to produce 'cut-up' texts.
There is not and never has been anything to understand!2012
ASC Gallery, 128 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8EQ
The exhibition was curated by myself and Simon O'Sullivan as a communiqué from Plastique Fantastique, our performance fiction collaboration. Our curation of the work by 21 artists, artist collectives and theorists (including Reza Negarestani, Suzanne Treister, John Russell, Joanne Tatham & Tom O'Sullivan, Benedict Drew and John Gillis & Aline Bouvy, John Cussans & Roberto Peyre, Dean Kenning, Pil & Galia Kollectiv) involved inviting practitioners to collaborate on a large installation and fanzine publication. The exhibition presented new art by practitioners working with diagrammatic approaches and/or concerned with traversing genres. The exhibitors shared an interest in fiction, appropriation and speculative thought or the inhuman. The exhibition was conceived as a 'crystalline' presentation that challenged conventions of exhibiting discrete and separate works, achieved by placing works in a diagram pasted throughout the space and curating the sound-bleed of the various audio works to create a layered and disorientating effect. The exhibition was a meta-diagram presenting and producing relations between cosmic, biological, social and political and sacred economies. Simon O'Sullivan and myself produced two works for the show, an 'Alter to the pre-industrial modern' in collaboration with Tom Clark, and 'Plastique Fantastique crystal matheme'. The exhibition concluded with two performances by WE and Neil Chapman and Ola Stahl.
THIS THIS MONSTER THIS THINGS2012
Focal Point Gallery Southend Central Library Victoria Avenue Southend-on-Sea Essex SS2 6EX
‘THIS THIS MONSTER THIS THINGS’, was curated by Giorgio Sadotti curated the exhibition and created an exquisite corpse from objects produced by fifty-one artist each producing a body part for a monster. This process resulted in a meta-artwork, a bastard object or a curatorial monster that mockingly presents a ‘complete’ entity. I produced a colon for the monster with songs - 'Power of Love', 'I feel Love', 'Love will tear us apart' - to form the sound of a troubled digestion system.
Night is also a Sun: G-lbl Hystr-c P-nc J-peg2012
IMT Gallery, Unit 2/210 Cambridge Heath Road London E2 9NQ UK
'Night is also a Sun: G-lbl Hystr-c P-nc' J-peg was an exhibition of hand-cut paper cut-outs, mobiles and audio-visual work that addressed viral mutation, propagation, repetition and collapse. A collision between visual styles, the artifice of pictograms and the characteristics of the handmade was staged through mixing the analogue and the digital. The exhibition explored one proposition: ‘Pain is also joy, curse is also a blessing, night is also a sun…’ That is, the sun – an analogy for enlightenment – is eclipsed by the intensity of its after-image, (absolute vision is blind and blinding). The exhibited work draws upon traditional, folk and mass media artifacts such as Halloween silhouettes, Chinese paper cuts and flow diagrams and presents search-engine trash as good fortune charms, sigils and diagrams and symbols of anxiety and aspiration.
Mulitverse Expanded and Multiverse2011
'Mulitverse Expanded' was at Akershus Kunstsenter, Lillestrom, Norway and 'Multiverse' was at Danielle Arnaud contemporary art 123 Kennington Road, London SE11 6SF UK.
'Mulitverse Expanded' at Akershus Kunstsenter Norway 2011 is the expansion of an ongoing exhibition project instigated by Ole Hagen, with Multiverse at Danielle Arnaud in London and its accompanying performance event Open Multiversity at Swedenborg Hall in 2009, for which myself and Simon O'Sullivan produced texts, artworks and performances for. The project invited six artists and the writer Michael Morcock to experiment with fiction and narrative as a tool for investigating notions of multiple worlds and universes within science, art, culture and philosophy. Simon and I produced diagrams of performances (figures for the processes, fictions and subjective and physical states that the performances produced) in the form of films, assemblages and large-scale wall works. The diagrams drew upon figures produced by modern thinkers such as Henri Bergson and Jacques Lacan, but also folk and sacred imagery that presented finite and infinite relations and transformations and becomings.
The Diagram: Blackboard Series2011
Space London and Dail Zero for Istanbul Biennale, Torna Istanbul.
The exhibition invited artists and a philosopher to produce a blackboard drawing, reflecting their interest in diagrams. The project was curated by Banner Repeater and Folio Magazine for Space London and Dail Zero for Istanbul Biennale, Torna Istanbul. I appropriated a world health organization diagram presenting epidemics to produce a flow diagram of hysteria and human and animal mutation. The diagrams produced for the project were photographed in London where they were sent to Istanbul to be redrawn, which causing further mutations of icons and symbols. My diagram was produced with this process in mind. I also produced a text, 'The Diagram: a user's guide', that explored anthropological, philosophical and aesthetic notions concerning diagrams for a publication produced by Banner Repeater. Also taking part were John Mullarkey, Claire Nichols, Dean Kenning, Clunie Reid.
Grey Area, Brighton, UK
One Film Projection, Three Monitor Works, Posters Mmanipulated By Hand, Glitter, Wax Candles, Insense, Coloured Gels For Lights.
The exhibition explored the ways in which art, as a diagrammatic practice, facilitates the production of impossible objects and events, in ways similar to how topology and mathematics facilitates the infinite to be thought. Through one projected film, three monitor works and 23 hand-manipulated printed posters works. The work was presented through the collaboration Plastique Fantastique. The diagram was utilised as means for capturing the relations and experiences produced through performance art and ritualised performance.
Plastique Fantastique TV: towards non-human propaganda!2011
Xero, Coma & Kline, London, UK
One Film Projection, Posters Mmanipulated By Hand, Glitter, Plaster Board, Wood.
The exhibition consisted of an hour long compilation of films that presented documentation of performances spliced and edited into recorded television programmes and news casts, emphasising and exploring the flatness and formal aspects of the TV screen often overlooked by conventional TV. 30 original posters, manipulated by hand through drawing and spraying, presented texts, images and diagrams concerning modes of performance that employed disorientation and play as mythopoetic art practice.
We are grammer.2011
Pratt Institute, New York, US.
The exhibition presented a survey of art practices that employed text and writing, different to first and second generation conceptual artists. The exhibition focused on the use of language in art located at the intersection of philosophy, current thinking on art, and contemporary theories of language. The exhibition presented collaborative art work made with Simon O'Sullivan, as plastique fantastique, that explored the notion of performance fiction.
The Glue Factory, Glasgow, UK
Wire, Paper, Card, Perpsex, Cd Of Three Songs, Cd Player And Speaker.
Work presented for the exhibition included a mobile of images derived from news images of a single day, and sculpture reference russian constructivist propaganda machines broadcasting three songs concerning work, labour and the future. The works combined to reflect upon different notions of the new in mass and avant-garde culture.
Embassy Gallery, Edinburgh, UK
DVD Film, Glitter And Pigment, Paper, Card, Leather, Perspex.
The exhibition surveyed contemporary art practices identified with 'a new medievalism' and an interest in folk, craft and scared cultures as means of critiquing modernity and economic and social structures. The exhibition concerned work that reveisted the past to investigate a 'pre-modern futurity'. Work presented through plastique fantastique collaboration utilised the notion of sigils and détournement to present logos from communication industries as 'spell-binding' symbols of capture that utilise repetition to become part of the fabric of culture.
Dead fingers talking2010
IMT Gallery, London, UK
Perspex, Leather, Wax, Plasticine, Cd, Cd Player, Speakers, Feathers, Crystals
Dead Fingers Talk was an exhibition presenting two unreleased tape experiments by William Burroughs from the mid 1960s alongside responses by 23 artists, musicians, writers, composers and curators. Few writers have exerted as great an influence over such a diverse range of art forms as William Burroughs. Burroughs, author of Naked Lunch, The Soft Machine and Junky, continues to be regularly referenced in music, visual art, sound art, film, web-based practice and literature. One typically overlooked, yet critically important, manifestation of his radical ideas about manipulation, technology and society is found in his extensive experiments with tape recorders in the 1960s and ’70s. Dead Fingers Talk: The Tape Experiments of William S. Burroughs was the first exhibition to truly demonstrate the diversity of resonance in the arts of Burroughs’ theories of sound. Work exhibited for the exhibition, as plastique fantatsique, explored Burroughs notion of recordings as reality, mixing recorded sounds of cats with recent news broadcasts and recordings of fake new broadcasts.
Tatton Biennial 20102010
Tatton Park Gardens, Chesire, UK.
Performance, Printed Comic (edition 8000), Assemblage Made From Steel, Paint, Perspex, Wire, Ribbon, Wood,
The work 'A history of the visitation' presented for the Biennial included a public art work/structure, two performances and comic. The research addressed alternative forms for a public art work other than that of sculpture in a public space by investigating a local myth about a site - and through re-enactment and fiction, engaging the audience in performance and the creation of myth. The performances and the comic explored notions of ritual and disorientation as a means to arrest habit and habits of perception. in doing so, the structure referenced Robert Smithson's ideas and interest in enantiomorphic chambers and the performances referenced performance art engaged in acts of endurance from the 1970s.
Library of Babel/in and out of place2010
Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK
DX DIY Art Centre: The Old Police Station, London, UK & Oticalradio broadcast
DVD Films, Dvd Players, Speakers, Wood, Paint, Paper, Foam, Soundtrack For Radio Broadcast
The research explored the notion of a body without hierarchies in science fiction, in particular in Frederik Phol's novel 'Man Plus', comparing and marking similarities to Antonin Artaud's notion of the body in 'To be done with the Judgement of God' in which the term 'Body Without Organs' is first used.
Salute in the distance2009
Star Space, Shanghai, China
Paper, Card, Polyethlene Foam
The theme of the exhibition was translation. For this two person show with Miao Xiaochun, work was presented that examined the notion of evolution and cultural presentations of nature and culture in mass culture and art.
Stranger things are happening2009
Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth, UK
Glitter, Pigment, Perpsex, Masks Made From Felt, Card, Paint.
Stranger Things Are Happening brought together artists that use diverse media to create works which convey bizarre scenarios, poking at the human psyche. The artists involve themselves either as character or as narrator, using theatrical backdrops and humour to delve into the more challenging and questionable asp ects of society. They invent fantasy personalities and situations that examine matters such as the hysteria around mass media and popular culture, and the place the characters (or us as individuals) have within them. The work presented through the collaboration plastique fantastique addressed notions of performance fiction and the notion of impermanence and the ways in which the new and time are presented in consumer culture and folk culture.
Danielle Arnaud Gallery, London, UK
DVD Film, Glitter And Pigment, Felt, Perspex.
Multiverse brought together artists who use fiction to access the virtual potential for multiple co-existing worlds. The term multiverse, first coined by William James, has become associated with quantum theory and new cosmology. Applied to the universe it implies that there could be an infinite number of universes decohered from each other. It also operates in relation to the idea of a multidimensional hyperspace. The scientific future of the term might be uncertain, but it can describe a radical way of considering fiction. For the exhibition, through the collaboration Plastique Fantastique, works presented explored notions and forms of the diagram to present subjective experience of performance and the multiplicity of potential fictions that imagine non human worlds or durations. In particular, the Möbius Strip, impossible objects from mathematics, Lacan's Torus and Bergson's cone were utilised to explore ways of making the multiplicity and infinity of the multiverse accessible to thought through art works and drawings.
E:vent Gallery, London, UK
Star Maker was devised by Mark Harris and David Burrows, both of whom thought of an exhibition drawing upon ideas about matter, life-forms, time, entropy and utopia in Olaf Stapledon’s book Star Maker at exactly the same time. The pair surveyd and selected artists that shared a common interests in the non-human and the cosmic, entropy and geological time.
Royal Academy of Art, London, UK
Perspex,felt, Paper, Wood, Shoe, Glitter, Pigment, Dvd Film Projections,
'Diagrams of the Black Mass for Partial Objects' was an installation, presented for the exhibition Event Horizon. The work was produced in collaboration with Simon O'Sullivan as Plastique Fantastique. We produced a diagram, in the form of a large glass, a vitrine and a felt mat, referencing the alchemical and mathematical notions found in the work of Marcel Duchamp, Henri Bergson's notion of the 'pure present' and sacred practices concerned with immateriality and impermanence. The assemblage was designed as a platform to frame mass media images and consumer objects. The work was designed to foreground and contrast different notions of the new, temporality, duration and materiality. Films of the black mass performance were on display for the duration of the show, the works were 'activated' through the performance of a 'Black Mass for Partial Objects' (a term used to designate elements within arrangements or economies of desire). The performance took place in Bond Street - through a procession and the purchasing of fashion items - and in the Galleries of the Royal Academy - where the objects were 'fossilised' through emersion in oil and silicon and glitter. Following this, an inversion occurred, a member of the performance group was inverted and a 'demon' broadcast a communiqué concerning the technologies of consumer culture and the ways in which time is captured or presented by such technologies. The research took the form of performance and fiction to explore temporality in art, mass media and scared cultures.
One Day Comic2008
Eastside Projects, Birmingham and City of Birmingham, UK
Comic Book And Billboards
Berlin-based Henrik Schrat’s one-day-comic concept focuses on the short term, but intense cooperation of two artists or artist-groups. Without any previous preparation, two artists meet in the morning, and start to develop a comic strip together – to be completed in one day. Schrat's collaboration with the collaboration Plastique Fantastique produced a comic called 'product clearing' that examined consumerism and ritual. The comic appeared on bill boards in the city and advertised a website where the adventures of individuals 'cured' of consumerism could be found.
100 years, 100 artists, 100 works2008
Rochelle School Gallery, London, UK and TFL
Transport for London (TFL)/Platform for Art commissioned 100 artists were asked to reflect on the Roundel design that signifies the tube system and produce a work. Work was exhibited at Rochelle school and made into editions of prints.
Protocols for Deceleration2008
Outpost Gallery, Norwich
DVDs, Monitors, Performance, Perspex, Felt, Glitter, Prints On Paper, Ribbons, Wax Candles, Broom, Stopwatch, Whips
The exhibition, presented through the collaboration of Plastique Fantastique, was designed as a series of 'clearing' stations to disconnect the veiwer, wishing to follows a series of protocols, from their attachment to objects, commodities and identifications. The exhibition addressed how performance art echoes the practices of religions, cults and state institutions concerned with subjectification, control and enlightenment.
New Work UK Screenings2008
Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, UK
The screening event presented the film 'The Chymical Wedding' produced through the collaboration Plastique Fantastique, and addressed the notion of the impossibility of the sexual relation through performance and masochism. The Chymical Wedding was a parade and ritual performed at Tate Britain that looked back to the custom of ‘mumming’. Traditionally, ‘mummers’ would wander the country, drunk and in masks, and gatecrash New Year festivities to perform a play. Drawing also upon Sascha Masoch and John Dee, The Chymical Wedding forms part an ongoing series of communiqués.
All over the new smart2008
f a projects, London, UK
Paper, Card, Polyethlene Foam
The exhibition presented magazine covers as messages from strangers, designed to channel our attention in specific ways, through the signifying and asignifying (or affective) aspects of the images and material properties of the glossy covers. The covers were presented as powerful and affective 'technologies' or designs that demand and construct specific subjectivities. Through the collages, Burrows explores, amongst other things, the following three approaches as a means of responding to these messages, with the aim of harnessing or countering the power of these mass media communiqués. Doodles - a playful technology that harnesses the durations that escape attention paid to everyday matters. Doodles are made in a distracted, absent-minded state without the aim of communication. Burrows’ doodles create ‘all-over’ and ‘from any-direction-whatever’ compositions. Diagrams - a technology that marks out or indexes movements, forces, thoughts, actions and desires that traverses representation. Sigils - abstract or graphic images and symbols, often made with extreme care and craft, which are developed from spelling out and then abstracting wishes and incantations. Through this process, the original wish or incantation is forgotten except at an unconscious level. In practices that utilise sigils, the wish is burnt into the mind by an individual concentrating intently on the sigil which is often destroyed at the end of the process. The covers, with their logos and images of consumer culture were presented as powerful sigils, and the work, in turn was presented as seeking to produce new, 'detourned' or counter sigils.
Catalogue essay for the exhibition of Kate Smith's work at Gallery North, exploring the ways the artist addresses object-hood and social networks. The essay makes reference to actor network theory developed by Bruno Latour and discusses post-minimalism and readymades in relation to social network theory.
The chapter addresses two films by the artist Anthony Gross, 'Columbo Eats Columbo' and 'Kanes Revolutions', and the themes of the analogue and the virtual, and design and and regeneration explored in Gross' work.
The research was undertaken through exhibitions and performances, a conference which resulted in an edited collection of essays and an essay published in the book and online in revised form by Mute (UK) and Tintank (Spain). The book 'Performance Fictions' is part of an art-writing-research series that includes volumes edited by myself and academics at Goldsmiths and Reading Gavin Butt, Jonathan Lahey Dronsfield, Maria Fusco and John Russell and Alun Rowlands, of which I am the series editor. This research network developed out of the event 'Art writing beyond criticism' I organised at the ICA, London in 2008. The volumes explore the relationship of art, performance and writing and were developed out of events staged in London, Birmingham and New York. The event 'Performance Fictions' took place at Electric Cinema, Birmingham in 2009 with presentations from Sadie Plant, John Cussans, Simon O'Sullivan and Pil and Galia Kollectiv and myself. The presentations were developed as essays for the book, conceived as a means of reflecting upon new and recent art and performance that employed performance and fiction as means of effecting, changing or registering existing organisations of life. The essay and concept of performance fiction concerns the power of fiction to transform existing situations through developing singularities or autonomous ventures that explore time as common wealth and as material for aesthetic and social experimentation. The essay also explores performance fictions produced to further specific, political agendas, and in doing so defines performance fiction as different to ideological presentations and simulation. The text maps out a definition for performance fiction through recourse to theories of performativity and perversion (the acceptance and disavowal of an existing state of affairs). The essay then develops the concept through examining recent art practices in the UK, and performances and works I produced with Simon O'Sullivan, including the installations and performances 'Welcome Mouth-Ports Bour-Har' for Apsex Gallery, Portsmouth and 'Visitation Site' for Tatton Biennial 2010. It is in these collaborations that a practice of performance fiction was consciously developed and tested.
The essay addresses recent performance art practices in the UK that employs fiction as a means of producing social relations and scenes. The essay relates such practices to Berardi's notion of singularities, Virno's reflections on ritual and Deleuze's thoughts on Foucault's notion of the statement.
The chapter examines the logic of art scenes through case studies off London-based practices from the last two decades and utilises Gilles Deleuze's notion of the diagram as a presentation or display that resists signifying regimes.
The publication consists of two lectures by David Burrows and Andy Sharp on the relationship of chaos magic, the work of Austin Osman Spare and avant-garde and contemporary art. The publication also analyses performances of Plastique Fantastique within this context.
An exciting new collection of essays exploring the relevance of Deleuze and Guattari's work in contemporary aesthetics and political theory. The chapter examines the differences and blindspots of the writings of Badiou and Deleuze concerning art and the notion of the event.
The chapter addresses the work of Lindsay Seers and her critique of the camera and indexical practices through performing as a human camera. The chapter discusses the influence of Bergson and Deleuze on the artists understanding of memory and fiction.
'The Chymical Wedding' is indicative of my research practice which explores the role of fiction and performance plays in producing relations, worlds or subjectivities through performance, exhibitions and writing. Through collaboration, 'The Chymical Wedding' specifically addresses the role of masochism and ritual in performance art (that is, the realisation of masochistic and institutional contracts between collaborating artists, curator and audience) and the potential of such performances to produce different relations and identifications. In this, the research addressed performance art as something more than theatre or spectacle, and something more than a process of registering the reality or limits of the body. The article discusses the role of masochism in performance by foregrounding the difference between Gilles Deleuze's and Jacques Lacan's theories concerning masochism, the body and myth. Following Deleuze, masochistic practices and rituals were explored as generative of fiction, and as an experience that suspends hierarchies of both the social and the body, allowing for new hierarchies to be imagined, speculated upon or narrated. The research was presented in a special edition of Angelaki addressing sadism, masochism and culture.
The performance art work is a part of an ongoing exploration of the masochistic aspects of performance art, in which an individual, through performance, becomes a plaything for the public, posing ethical questions for the audience addressed through the relationships that the audience adopts or produces in relation to the performaer. In this performance, an individual performed as a golem - an animated object commanded to undertake certain tasks. The audience were allowed to question and position and command the golem.
Through the collaboration Plastique Fantastique, the performance referenced the folk tradition of mumming, John Dee's practices and alchemy and explored the ways in which performance is a masochistic practice. The work also explored masochistic performance as a technology arrests the hierarchies or strata of the body. In this, the performance addressed Lacan's assertion that there is no such thing as the sexual relation.
The performance art work took the form of a 30 minute performative lecture and addressed the theme of distribution and the ways in which algorithms produce a logic of the possible rather than the potential of the new and the unexpected. The performance speculated on the potential of accessing 'blind spots' to counter existing structures and habits for art practice and publishing art writing.
The performance employed and investigated the sound experiments, techniques and processes describe by William Burroughs in 'The Job', claimed as processes that alter a subjects understanding or perception of the time and space of a particular location. In particular, the performance employed repetition, loops, feedback and playing recordings of the space and other spaces back to gallery through a system of speakers. The event was presented as a broadcast, in and outside the gallery, by a fictional sacred society. The performance was designed to disorientate the audience and to invite them to re-name objects and things with words and phrases broadcast. At the end of a performance a voice, the demon BuZ-blud-witz, explained the concept of performative and of how habit might be arrested through games involving re-naming things and people. An additional aspect involved inviting those who work at the gallery to collaborate on the project by making masks, re-naming themselves and repeating words and phrases broadcast throughout the performance. In this, play and the sacred combined work time, a response to recent debates concerning the relational in art and immaterial labour.
The event brought together practices that involved sound and music performance, and the production of narratives and fictions through performance. The performance addressed the notion of 'eternal return' in relation to everyday life and culture.
The performance was presented in conjunction with the exhibition Stranger Things Are Happening which brought together artists that use diverse media to create works which convey bizarre scenarios, poking at the human psyche. The artists involve themselves either as character or as narrator, using theatrical backdrops and humour to delve into the more challenging and questionable asp ects of society. The performance presented through the collaboration plastique fantastique addressed notions of performance fiction and the notion of impermanence and the ways in which the new and time are presented in consumer culture and folk culture. The performance referenced Meyer Deren's research on rituals in Haiti, and the mirror displacements of Robert Smithson to 'write' new myths for the Shopping Complex that the Gallery is located in.
The performance took place in Bond Street - through a procession and the purchasing of objects of fashion (camper shows) were purchased - and in the Galleries of the Royal Academy - where the objects were 'fossilised' through emersion in oil and silicon and glitter, so as to place the objects in a geological time context. Following this, an inversion occurred, a member of the performance group was inverted and a 'demon' broadcast a communique concerning the technologies of consumer culture and the ways in which time is colonised by such technologies. The communique spectualted that the 'thing-in-itself' could be registered through a release from attending to the present, which following Bergson, is an effect of the past.
'All the fantasies of the people!' is a performance exploring and experimenting with Myth-Science as formal process for making art and critical reflections. Myth Science - a termed coined by Sun Ra - was explored in the performance as a slowing down and speeding up of myths and experiences chosen by the eight participants in the performance. In this, the performance presented a contemporary carnival and drew upon Ifa rituals. The phrase, 'all the fantasies of the people' is taken from Maya Deren's film, 'The Divine Horsemen' and a description of Haitian Carnival when when all the fears, hatred and disdain and all that is scared is paraded. The Performance consists of a projection of eight avatars and diagrams, live music and reading/chanting of text concerning all the fantasies of the people. The last performance of 'All the fantasies of the people!' was at Wysing Arts Centre for Spac-Time: Convention T. Previously the performance had been presented at Grand Union Gallery Birmingham for Magic Eye Music Festival, 20 July 2013; IMT Gallery London 27 July 2013 and Stephen Lawrence Gallery Greenwhich, 7 April 2013.
'Neuropatheme' was performed at the ICA London for 'Open File: Long Live the New Flesh' which also presenetd work by Dori Deng and Meta Drcar, Benedict Drew, John Gerrard and Nicolas Provost. The performance addressed ideas from cybernetic and neuroscience that diagram humans as feedback loops. In this, the performance fictionalized the creatures described in cybernetic and neuroscience texts and philosophy. The presentation culminated in a performance in which a performer becomes a feedback-loop through prosthesis attached to a mixing desk and delay pedals. During the performance, two films are played, music is played and songs are sung narrating a cloud giving birth to a new animal that treats affects as information (Neuropatheme 2.0) and the new animal resists meaning (Neuropatheme 3.0). The presentation was an attempt to present a diagram of cybernetic-feedback-creature.
For the performance at f a projects, as plastique fantastique, technologies and processes of 'clearing' and 'channelling' were researched. The practices of cults and the writings of Burroughs provided material for the performances. The perofrmance was undertaken in collaboration with Bughouse, a group who employ analogue and digital technology (cameras, mixers & projectors) to mix live and pre-recorded film material to explore a ‘paranoid-critical’ method of manifesting chance (unconscious) connections.
Production of illustrated pamphlet designed to appear as aged document for Eastside Projects' tenth anniversary and anniversary event. The work consisted of reproductions of drawings and text in the form of a utopia in which an art critic travels forward in time from 1998 to 2003 to discover a new art space in Birmingham. The 4,000 word text explores the ideas and philosophy of Eastside Porjects, including the gallery as a work of art and legacy of avant garde approaches to exhibitions.